Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In defense of meat

A different version of my last post (regarding the myth of eating meat) was published today on the Foreign Policy website. It can be found here.


  1. "Those omega-3s have become the latest "superfood," and -- sorry, vegetarians -- they cannot be found anywhere else in nature." It is possible to obtain essential omega fatty acids from vegetarian sources.

    Thank you for the compelling article in FP and related blog post. This is a policy area I will be following closely from now on.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    Certainly, you can obtain Omega-3's in a veggie diet, but I was specifically referring to DHA -- the most beneficial of fatty acids. And both of your sources clearly state that ALA is converted quite inefficiently to DHA.

    To be fair, a vegetarian *could* obtain enough DHA from a veggie diet -- in fact, I do so personally by eating a ton of flaxseed rather than fish. But it requires quite a commitment to sufficient intake of ALA in plant sources.

    Furthermore, I would suggest referencing my original blog post on this issue. There are other issues besides the fatty acid connection as it relates to meat. First, protein intake and its related benefits (I'd be glad to discuss if you're interested). Second, if a dietary composition of carbohydrates increases (which is likely to occur if protein is reduced), then we may have an even worse problem with diabetes and obesity -- both linked to intake of the high glycemic carbohydrates Americans most regularly consume.

    Thanks again. I look forward to your response.

  3. You are deeply misinformed about your ideas about meat and health. You ought to study and think first and write later.

  4. Actually, DHA is found in algae (that's where the fish get it from in the first place...they don't make it themselves). Vegetarians can get DHA from algae supplements (yes, it's a pill not a food). But, unlike fish oil supplements, DHA from algae is organic, there's no possible mercury contamination, they don't cause burping, and the DHA is bioequivalent to the DHA from fish.

    -Carolyn, MS, RD, vegetarian for 16 years

  5. Good point, Carolyn. I appreciate the insight. But I have a few issues as a response:

    1) If algae can be made to be mass produced without equally dangerous environmental consequences, then I think it would be a great alternative to fish-derived DHA/EPA. But as of now, based on two standard products from the same retailer (linked below), fish oil is three times more affordable in pill form than algae. So for this to become a viable alternative, algae needs to be more widely produced. (The political barriers are real.)

    2. Although you did not directly argue this, DHA is not the only important benefit of a diet that included fish and lean meat. The other is protein. Rather than make the long argument here, I would ask that you refer to the comment section on the following link for my discussion of protein requirements (i.e. the insufficiency of the RDA and the resulting need for high-protein sources of food).

    As a RD, I will be interested to hear your thoughts on this issue. Thanks.

  6. Steering clear of the meat vs vegetarian issue, I'd like to point out some errors in Kevin Slater's The Argument.

    Beef pasture raised (ONLY grass fed, NO grains) and free of antibiotics and hormone injections is healthier for you even than fish and chicken. The saturated fat level is less than for these others, and the omega 3 level of fat is higher.
    And our bodies CAN make docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)--you just need to eat all the necessary co-factors (vitamins and minerals), as well as the precursor LNA (Alpha-linoleic Acid) which is gotten in flax, hemp,walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. LNA has to be eaten--that is, our bodies cannot produce it (as it can DHA)--that is why LNA is called an ESSENTIAL oil.

  7. There are a lot of myths related to that belief but I think that people have a lot myths in their lives and I think that everybody can defend what they want to belief.